Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card review: Is the sign-up bonus enough to tempt frequent flyers?

Woman with backpack exploring a Cambodian templeImage: Woman with backpack exploring a Cambodian temple

In a Nutshell

The Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card comes with a sign-up bonus of up to 50,000 Asia Miles that you can bank for a trip toward Cambodia, Hong Kong or other destinations in Asia. Otherwise, this card, which does not waive its $95 annual fee the first year, may be not be the best choice for day-to-day expenses.
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If Cambodia, Hong Kong, Bangkok, India or even Vancouver are on your list of must-visit travel destinations, Cathay Pacific may get you there.

The airline introduced its first credit cards for the U.S. market in 2017, including the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card. The Asia Miles you can earn with this card can be redeemed for flights on Cathay Pacific or with partner carriers, such as American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Air China.

The Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card is currently offering a hefty sign-up bonus. You can earn up to 50,000 bonus Asia Miles: 30,000 after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 90 days your account is open, and then another 20,000 when you hit the $8,000 mark in purchases within the first six months.

But if you’re considering this card, be aware it doesn’t offer the flexibility and points-earning potential of many flexible travel cards.

The rundown: Everything we like about the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card

While you will earn two Asia Miles for every $1 spent on eligible travel and in-flight purchases with the airline, a more unusual benefit of the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card is that you can earn 1.5 Asia Miles per $1 spent on purchases outside the United States.

The Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card also earns 1.5 Asia Miles per $1 spent on all dining purchases, whether you’re in the U.S. or abroad.

Another perk is the 12 months of Green membership to the Marco Polo Club, the airline’s loyalty program, which normally costs $100. With club membership, you can …

  • Use Asia Miles to book seats with extra legroom
  • Enjoy priority boarding for members only (no guests)
  • Use Asia Miles to bring extra baggage
  • Use Asia Miles to access business class lounges

Finally, the card comes with exclusive opportunities to redeem Asia Miles for discounted awards tickets. You’ll also get a 10% discount on Asia Miles you gift as well as on mileage renewal fees and mileage transfer fees.

Heads up: What you should consider before applying for the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card

The Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card comes with a $95 annual fee.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you’re not eligible to receive the current sign-up bonus if you currently have or have had this card or the Cathay Pacific Visa® card.

Do the math: Ways to get the most out of the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card

The card can be valuable for its sign-up bonus and side benefits, like the Marco Polo Club membership. But once you hit the sign-up bonus, consider making your day-to-day purchases with a flexible travel rewards card that earns more points per $1 spent in certain categories instead.

While the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card does earn two miles per $1 spent on eligible Cathay Pacific purchases, you could still earn more with other cards. The Citi Prestige® Card, for example, gets you an impressive five ThankYou® Points per $1 spent on air travel and restaurants, and three points per $1 on hotels.

The competition: How does it compare with similar cards?

There are a variety of other travel credit cards that may let you earn or transfer points to Asia Miles or airlines that fly to similar destinations. Several allow you to earn more points per $1 spent on various categories. Some even waive the first year’s annual fee. Here are a few cards worth considering if the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card isn’t right for you.

Bottom line: Is the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card right for you?

Although the card comes with a big sign-up bonus if you hit the spending requirements, you can find other airline cards out there with even better deals.

“The card can be useful for those who have a use for [Asia Miles],” says Charles.

So if you’re ready to use Asia Miles to hop to Cambodia, Hong Kong, Bangkok or another travel destination, the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card might be right for you.

About the author: Lyn Mettler is an Indianapolis-based writer specializing in finance, food and travel. She is the author of “The Step-by-Step Guide to Flying Free on Southwest Airlines” and enjoys showing people how they can use miles… Read more.